Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 13 May 21:
2 Samuel 6:8 — “And David was angry because the LORD had broken out against Uzzah.”
David was angry at God because God killed Uzzah, but David should have taken responsibility for leading Uzzah astray, humbled himself and repented before the Lord, confessed his sins to the people, and led the people to follow God’s commands. David led his men in flagrant violation of God’s laws concerning the handling of the ark and set Uzzah up for failure by neglecting to model and demand obedience and respect for God’s holiness and God’s word. We all play a role in some way as both a leader and follower, and this account should convict us to follow Christ alone and to make disciples (followers) who observe all that He has commanded, being careful not to be led astray or lead others astray.
The Ark of the Covenant was most Holy, symbolizing God’s throne — God was “above it” (Leviticus 16:2). The Ark was kept in the Most Holy Place in the temple where only the High Priest could enter, and only after much ceremonial cleansing. God gave very strict regulations for transporting the Ark. When the ark was to be moved, it was to be covered with at least three layers of cloth by the priests to protect others from seeing it (Numbers 4:5-6, 15, 18-20); the priests/Levites carried it, and everyone else had to stay about a thousand yards away (Joshua 3:4). These laws enforced the reality of the holiness of God, the sinfulness (unworthiness) of people, and, ultimately, pointed to the Gospel of Jesus who would cleanse us of our unrighteousness , give us access to His holiness, and make us “worthy” in Him.
“And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.” (2 Samuel 6:5) David led the people in great religious celebration, right up to the point where The Lord’s anger kindled and He struck down Uzzah. True worship is not about emotional songs and much display; it is about a reverent, obedient heart and living lives holy and pleasing to God – “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1) “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22) David should have led in true worship as a living sacrifice before the Lord, wholly obedient to Him, seeking only to please Him.
In his rush to receive the Ark, perhaps to reinforce his own power, David broke all of God’s regulations. Following David’s lead, Uzzah died from carelessly handling the Ark (1 Samuel 6:19). When God held Uzzah accountable for his complacency, David became angry with God rather than taking responsibility for his poor leadership. Perhaps, David did not know he was breaking God’s commands concerning the Ark, but ignorance is no excuse for a leader. Bad leadership hurts others.
“How can the ark of the LORD come to me?” (2 Samuel 6:9) “…come to me…” Me, me, me. When we lose perspective on God’s holiness, we begin to place ourselves ahead of God and make ourselves the priority. We pursue, “My will be done,” rather than “Thy will be done,” and we expect God to serve us rather than the other way around. David failed Uzzah because David was too focused on getting what he wanted rather than simply honoring God. Again, God had provided clear, easily understandable instructions on how to transport the Ark, but apparently, no one bothered to review them. How a person treats God’s word reflects how that person truly feels about God. If the Bible is interesting but not compelling, the reader has minimalized God, which by definition is the same as saying God isn’t God.
“And when those who bore the ark of the LORD had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal. And David danced before the LORD with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod.” (2 Samuel 6:13, 14) All of this was unnecessary and, to some observers, foolishness. All they had to do was obey the laws of Exodus 25. God desires obedience, not extravagant religious ceremony and sacrifice. “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14) “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:16, 17)
- Matthew 18:6 — But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
- Jeremiah 50:6 — “My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray, turning them away on the mountains. From mountain to hill they have gone. They have forgotten their fold.
- 1 John 4:1 — Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
- 1 John 3:7 — Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.
- John 8:12 — Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Again, we all play a role in some way as a leader and a follower. We must be very careful not to be led astray or lead others astray. Leaders know the way, go the way, and show the way. Jesus is the way – the only way! (John 14:6) True leaders humbly and obediently follow Jesus and lead people to Him. If you are not following Jesus and guiding others to Him, you are not fit to lead. In fact, anyone who isn’t following Jesus is ultimately leading others astray, despite the temporal rewards they might seem to offer.
- 2 Corinthians 11:3 — But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
- Mark 13:5 — And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray.
- Luke 9:23 — And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
- Matthew 10:38 — And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
- John 10:27 — My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
- John 12:26 — If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 13 May 21: Focus on simple, loving obedience to the Lord today as an act of worship to Him. Lead others in loving obedience to God.